Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Good Time to Praise God

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were invited to play and sing at a country revival service. (He plays, and we both sing. Music is how we met!)
At one point during the speaker's message, he called the audience to praise God during difficult times. He shouted, "Have you thanked God for that extra mortgage?" A couple of murmurings and "amens" ensued from the crowd. He pushed further, "Have you thanked God for that divorce?"

"Yes!" cried one enthusiastic listener.

Everyone laughed.

That poor woman was completely serious about her answer, but it was really funny. The speaker got a good laugh, too.

Now, I've been reading through the Psalms since some time in February. I started reading one Psalm per day, because I felt God leading me to it. And certainly, I need to develop a deeper, more consistent inclination towards praising God--in good times and in bad.

Psalms 111 was a good reminder to me this morning that God is good. So many people (myself included) grew up in a church world of superstition that propagated the notion that "good works and obedience to God ensures good things will happen to you." It may have never been uttered, but that attitude was generally supported.

The Bible does not guarantee us that, my friends.

Job, a "perfect and upright" man, "and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1), lost everything he had. 

Yet, what was his prevailing attitude?

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." (Job 13:15)

Other great men in the Bible, like John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, lost their very lives while spreading the Gospel. 

And King Jesus, the perfect man, was crucified.

How are we supposed to respond to that kind of behavior? Did Jesus deserve to die on the cross? What was he guilty of? 


But "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).

Think for a minute about what would have happened if Christ had not died on the cross. What would our lives look like? 

Mine would be a hot mess!

Truly, Christ's death was excruciating. His own Father could no longer look on Him. I can't even imagine what that must have felt like. 

But as a result of his death, as a result of his loneliness and suffering, we are able to commune with God.

So was His death not "worked for our good"?

Some of us think that when something "bad" happens, God is trying to punish us for something else bad that we've done. Or we sin and, even if we pray and ask forgiveness for it, we go around waiting for something "bad" to happen to us in return.

Though we would, in reality, deserve it, God is not petty like that. He is not out to get revenge on us. If "bad" things happen to us, it doesn't automatically mean we did something wrong. 

We may not be able to understand those hard times in the moment. I can tell you countless difficulties in my own life that did not make sense at the time. There are still some that don't make much more sense than they did years later.

But I have to trust that God is still good. That my circumstances, whether they seem to be or not, are being worked out for my overall good. That is why the Bible tells us "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18).

Surely, the Lord "hath made wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion" (Psalms 111:4).

Any time is a good time to praise God.

--Mrs. D.